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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperDesignHigh Score on "Fastest Time" Games?
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michaelplzno
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« on: July 27, 2012, 08:58:17 PM »

I'm wondering if there is an elegant scoring system for games where the object is to clear the game as fast as possible. The obvious problem with simply saying the fastest time wins is that if you are playing to beat the high score you no longer have a reason to finish the game after you pass the time you are trying to beat. Its kind of the speed runner's dilemma.

I could reward points for good play during the game but then you could just go for those score boosts and never finish the level, racking up a high score at a leisurely pace.

Is there an obvious answer I'm overlooking?
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iffi
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« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2012, 09:42:14 PM »

Perhaps make going through the levels quickly increase a multiplier, so faster people will have a higher multiplier which enables them to score higher, but speed isn't everything and someone can still achieve a higher score even if their speed is slightly slower. I think Kenta Cho's Gunroar does something like that.
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michaelplzno
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« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2012, 11:38:34 PM »

Thanks for pointing me to that. I had played it in high school but I never really analyzed the scoring system. Unfortunately adding a bonus for fast play won't be enough because the player could continue to go for score indefinitely and not even try to reach the game's end state. Its not about motivating the player to make moves quickly, its about motivating them to try to complete the game quickly. I don't want there to be a way to keep getting points without ending the game.

Just modifying it slightly, I think I'll try a score multiplier that starts at a high value and slowly decreases to zero after long enough. Then it should be possible to beat the high score even with a longer time if you rack up a lot of points, but you would not be able to continue scoring points forever to beat the top score.
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baconman
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« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2012, 04:30:02 AM »

You could also split leaderboards into Fast Times and High Scores, independantly. That would be the "OMFG why didn't I..." answer to the dilemma.
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BorisTheBrave
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« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2012, 06:09:31 AM »

You see lots of games that give a ranking at the end. So the challenge becomes not "how fast", but "how fast while getting an S+ rank". Forces people to concentrate on play style as well as simply dashing through every obstacle. Also, the multiple ranks mean players can choose how much they want the emphasis to be on speed, and on good play.
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michaelplzno
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« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2012, 06:37:49 AM »

bacon: The interesting part of my game is finishing it, if you play it for score without trying to finish the game its a different game. Also, if I split it, the speed mode game would be identical to what I have now and it would still have the flaw of becoming boring after you get a difficult to beat top speed.

boris: That could work, but I don't want people to get tired of playing it once they get a fast score of S+ rank. After you do that I'm pretty much in the same dilemma I started with.
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baconman
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« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2012, 06:54:01 AM »

I have a Crisis City (Act 1) time of 2:45. I haven't stopped playing Sonic Generatons yet. Wink In fact, my Planet Wisp (Act 1) is under 4 min's, and (Act 2) is hovering around 4:35. I SO wanna get that second one under 4.
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michaelplzno
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« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2012, 07:59:31 AM »

Right, its not that the entire game gets boring, its that its only fun for a few minutes if you are looking for a high score and then you need to restart. I know there are hardcore speed runners who will play again and again a gazillion times and just hit reset if the time takes too long, but I'm trying to reach a broader audience than that if possible.
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BorisTheBrave
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« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2012, 08:47:21 AM »

boris: That could work, but I don't want people to get tired of playing it once they get a fast score of S+ rank. After you do that I'm pretty much in the same dilemma I started with.
S+ is meant to be incredibly hard to achieve anyway. Some people will go for achievements, and some will go for speed. Only the mega experts will go for both. So it gives something for everybody. Obviously, if the game is easy enough that S+ doesn't add any challenge, then people will get tired of playing. But if S+ is only barely achievable, then there is going to be much more leeway in improving the times got.
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TacoBell_Lord
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« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2012, 11:17:42 AM »

Sega is a big believer in this; Crazy Taxi, Sonic Advance 3 & Sega Rally..man Sega Rally turned me into a fiend for a Letter Ranking.
 
loved this system the most in "The World Ends With You" because it strengthens the difficulty structure if really want to push yourself for a high grade the struggle blends well with the motivation.
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Azure Lazuline
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« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2012, 10:32:01 PM »

Okay, there's a bit of ambiguity here. The game has an actual ending, correct? And it's fun to try to get to it as fast as possible? Then your "if you are playing to beat the high score you no longer have a reason to finish the game after you pass the time you are trying to beat" comment makes no sense at all. It's not over until you get to the end state, because the timer is still going until then.

If you're saying that the game is too short for that, then I would add secondary objectives, like optional powerups. Then have a separate time ranking for 100% playthroughs. You can also add in other playable characters or stages.
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michaelplzno
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« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2012, 11:13:38 PM »

Think of it like a level in sonic where the high score is simply fastest completion time. Lets say your best score is 2:30. If you are playing to get the best score, during your play through, once the timer hits 2:31, there is no longer a point to finish the run b/c it is impossible to beat the high score. You've already lost by then.

If I add little monsters that spawn and give the player score based on how many monsters they kill, then it becomes possible to get a high score without even trying to complete the level at all. You just kill monsters until your score meter hits a new high score and then walk to the end of the level.

My whole question was if there was a way to avoid both problems.
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Azure Lazuline
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« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2012, 11:49:13 PM »

I think that's a silly problem to be honest. "Always possible to get a higher score" and "high score cannot be infinite" are direct conflicting goals and you can't have both. If the best time is 2:30 and you mess up somehow and the time hits 2:30 before you reach the end, that means you messed up and don't deserve to get the record. That's how records work.

Say there's a scoring system, it's non-trivial (meaning there's something to make it more than just "shoot every enemy", such as a combo system or a multi-kill bonus) and there's no way to get infinite points just by playing longer. If you decide to go for speed, then halfway through realize you're not going to make it and now you want to go for points, chances are you can't beat that score either. Since you were going for speed, you weren't focusing on score, and you killed enemies without getting the optimal combo or whatever.

Another situation, say there's no way to permanently miss out on any points. So if you mess up going for the best time, you can go back and kill the rest of the enemies and get the maximum score. But then you have the maximum score and there's no reason to ever do that again.

So I don't really see where you're going with this. If the player is skilled enough to get 2:30, then it's not like it's a huge unachievable goal to get 2:29. Besides, a casual player will just care about having beaten the stage at all, or doing it with taking less damage, or getting all the optional powerups in the stage.

In Copy Kitty, I split the records into score and time categories, as two separate challenges rather than things to attempt simultaneously. If someone goes for both, then both will be mediocre - getting the best time involves heading straight for what you need to complete the level, while getting the best score involves doing all the extra stuff and making sure every enemy dies while keeping a high combo. These are conflicting goals and there's no way to get awesome rankings on both with a single play.
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michaelplzno
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« Reply #13 on: July 30, 2012, 12:18:20 AM »

Well thanks for thinking about it. I'll continue to mull this over.
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Noyb
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« Reply #14 on: July 30, 2012, 03:44:59 AM »

One root of the "speed runner's dilemma" is when the segments you're asking the player to speedrun are so long that it's possible to play for a while before either reaching the hard part or realizing it's impossible to beat the last score. If you're asking the player to master a set of actions, there will always be repetition. Getting into a fail state where the player cannot possibly beat their target score isn't necessarily bad -- the player might still want to practice the rest of the game for a future run.

If you want to reduce the repetition, make the discrete number of actions the player must perform in sequence small, and make it easy to retry upon failure. Maybe do something like the Prince of Persia remake where a player can incrementally improve a meta-time by replaying levels individually.

Runman: Race Around the World had a good balance of speed and collecting/killing contributing to a score. Every level has a fixed number of checkpoints, enemies, and collectible balloons. Each enemy gives you a fixed number of points for killing it, and deducts a fixed number of points if it hits you. Each balloon also has a fixed base score. Each checkpoint (including the level goal) has a base score that decreases as time passes and is multiplied by your current momentum.
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